By: Samuel Midkiff
It’s a plague that has devastated the American political scene, and one that is creeping into our federal and provincial politics: hyper-partisanship.
It’s the political disease in which politicians and political supporters will fervently toe and support the party line simply because it is the party line. Anything otherwise appears to result in the expulsion from your political party.
It is especially chronic in the United States, and as an American citizen it is incredibly depressing to hear arguments from both the blue and red sides arguing that their opponents are wrong simply because they’re on the opposing side. It’s why I couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, because her whole platform was basically, “Well, I’m not Donald Trump!”
You could also say you’re not a snake or a bison. That argument would hold greater sway over the centrist voters than the partisan argument does. In that case, you’re pointing out something obvious. In politics, you’re far more similar to your opponent than otherwise.
Canada has avoided the toxic effect of hyper-partisanship for a long time, but it’s slowly creeping into our politics.
Let’s look at the federal scene. The Liberal and Conservative dialogue has been dominated by mudslinging across the Parliamentary floor, with conservatives eager to point out all of the sitting Liberal government’s flaws while the federal Liberals continue to fall back on the incredibly lame excuse of “well, the previous government did worse!” Okay, whatever, you have a super-majority so why are you not pursuing your election promises such as electoral reform, infrastructure bank, the list goes on.
The same goes for provincial politics. I grew up in Alberta and I cannot stand watching the provincial legislature. Debate in Edmonton is dominated by partisan mudslinging with no more actual political debate. And, tragically, PEI is falling into this same trap.
Jamie Larkin was recently “expelled” (i.e. partisan pressure to leave the party) from the Green Party because he supported a politician who didn’t have ties to the Greens. The Liberals, too, have shown themselves to be pawns of the federal Liberal party as they have stayed somewhat silent on the Liberal carbon tax, a tax that would disproportionately affect Islanders more so than Quebecers or Ontarians (a federal investigation revealed that Quebec residents would suffer the least under the federal carbon tax while Atlantic Canada would suffer the most).
We need to vote according to our political beliefs, not along partisan lines. The political parties serve their partisan interests first. Independent voters need to make their voice heard more if we are to gain a truly representative government, both federally and provincially.
This article belongs to The Cadre’s opinion section. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cadre.